Clayton Black began his musical career playing the drums in blues bands on the west coast of Australia. In 1969 together with Gerry Stoll and Phil Kerr, they formed a band called Freight, playing the Hendrix and Cream sound around Perth. The photo above was taken during a sound check at the Colosseum in Murray Street. Later on they were joined by frontman Peter Hutton from Peter and the Drifters fame, and were regulars at the Pumphouse in Bayview Tce., Claremont.
In the eighties, Clayton and Gerry were playing together again in a band called Rick Veneer and the Vigilantes. With an eight ton truck, three road crew and a Tarago Van, they toured Oz for a number of seasons. Over the years Clayton worked with some other great Aussie musicians including Paul Felton, Lindsay Wells, Kevin Borich, Bob Patient and was the frontman in the Rex Bullen Band singing and playing purcussion. After Rex died under mysterious circumstances, some soft tissue issues forced Clayton onto the guitar where he developed a percussive and unique style of his own throughout the nineties. In November 2006 he returned to Australia from Europe and in 2007 released Almost Enjoying Myself, a collection of original songs recorded live in Brisbane with kick-boards and harmonica (The Invisible Band). Another CD has recently been finished, it was to be released at the beginning of 2015 and feature a full line up. However, two motorcycle accidents changed that. As of the 1st of June 2017 his new CD BEING has been made available. Claytoff played guitar, bass and drums etc whilst recovering.
As a drummer, Steve Hogg was my favored bass player, mind you, so was Bob Fortescue and Harris Campbell. Steve worked with them all. Renee Geyer, Ayers Rock, Bakery, Gladys Knight and Chuck Mackinny etc. He was a cheeky bugger and would introduce me as his drummer. We used to live in nightclubs and taxis for a while around Perth in the 80’s. I met him when we were hired guns in a recording studio in the early eighties. We were also freelancing with various bands and once after a gig in Esperance, we thought up a name for a band. “The Fart Snakes.” We laughed so hard that night in our hotel room. Eventually we got a band together and called it the Rhythm Snakes, because Fart Snakes didn’t work when we were sober. Steve passed away in the late eighties, under mysterious circumstances, whilst I was in Sydney. Missed his funeral, and, miss a good mate.
Rex Bullen played both keyboards and guitar extremely well. His forte however was a late night bar playing piano with a beautiful woman singing to a few musos and staff at four in the morning. You’d have to go a long way to try and find a better all round bloke in civies too. Rex played with Black Feather, Dragon, Renee Geyer to name the only ones I can remember at the time of going to print. In Perth, Rex played guitar and keyboards for The Troubadours throughout the sixties and seventies? Later, upon his triumphant return to Perth, with the Rex Bullen Band, we used to jam/rehearse at Bones’ place in Sth Perth, had some parties there too. There was so much broken glass in the carpet, that when women took their shoes off to dance, they would slash their feet to ribbons. When Rex died we were all very shocked and missed him and his effervescent outlook on life, a lot. Still dead but not forgotten…
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with some mighty people throughout my career and I have nothing but affection for all those who have shared my musical journey.
PAUL FELTON BAND
Opening for BB King’s The Thrill is Back tour at the Entertainment Centre Perth W.A. 1993?
Back Row: Clayton Black, drummer, Paul’s former wife Judy and Tiny the front of house sound technician. Front Row: Paul Felton, guitarist (deceased), BB King, my former wife Sue.
Paul Felton played guitar in the Jets and also the Paul Felton Band, Deepwater Point, Sitting Bull etc. He was a mighty mate to have. You had to know him to love him. A big man with a big heart and with a cheeky bit of a “before you accuse me, take a look at yourself” attitude. A big part of my life and being. I dug shit out of playing with him, very tight, made life easy for the drummer. Paul was certainly one of the greatest guitar players on the planet. Not too shabby on the drums either. Rock In peace good brother.
Of all the national and international artists I’ve met and worked with, BB was the standout. For the photo he wanted us all to touch him, such a nice bloke and raconteur, with tips and advice for one and all. After a gig at the old Entertainment Centre in Perth BB said to me, my Mumma sat me down and said, (sounding like a song) Riley, your brother so and so is a successful lawyer, your other brother such’n such is a successful what ever, and all you got is this guitar called Lucile. He looked me in the eye and said “now I’m King of the Blues.” The bass player and the singer from Deep Water Point were taking the photo, which tells you how many musos it takes to take a photo! Before the gig a bloke ran down the corridor asking that no dope be smoked in the dressing rooms because BB didn’t like it. We all did the gigs straight anyway because Felton was all over anyone that fucked up. Ha ha ! He left me alone.
STEVE DAVIS BAND
Back Row: Frizby (Andrew Thursby-Pelham),Guitar/Vocals
Front Row: Clayton Black, Drums/Vocals, Leonora’s local cop, Steve Hogg (deceased), Bass/Vocals.
The Steve Davis Band got it’s name because Steve (Hogg) got the gig in Leonora and all the band gear and equipment was railed up under that name so he could do a runner on the freight bill. He found Frizby and I jamming somewhere and said “I’ve just met the dude from the Leonora Pub at the Lockeridge and got a gig there for a month on good money.” Been in a hundred bands but that there is your one gig band, no rehearsals no nothing. Turns out the publican was a mighty bloke, still in touch, and we behaved badly. I think I saw some joker shoot a crow in the front bar of that Leonora Hotel. The publicans dog could get a beer out of the fridge, and, turn the tele on. We took over the town for that month. Smallest town we ever took over, and nearly the smallest town that ever was. No that’d have to go to Jarrahwood. The cop was great and went along with it all. Met plenty of good cops out in the bush. Andy, Tiny, Graham…
REX BULLEN BAND
Back Row: Rex Bullen, keyboards (deceased), Bernie Payne (gas) on the sax, Ian Ironside (Bones) played drums and broke ALL the glass in the house.
Front Row: Colin Mulqueen on the bass, Clayton Black, vocals and percussion and Gerry Stoll zimming on the guitar….
Bones had the idea for the band initially. Steve Hogg from Ayers Rock was supposed to be the bass player. He literally broke a leg. We got Rex from Dragon to come over to Perth where he once played with The Troubadours. Rex was one of the nicest blokes you could ever meet. He was dead within two years. Best pianist.
Some people in the industry said we played cabaret blues. But George Thoroughgood, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hendrix etc. all had airplay in the eighties and we had been playing that music since our first bands, so, by the time it became popular, we were pretty good at nailing the sound. Not only did we nail it but we glued and screwed it. Gerry Stoll got some boots and an acubra and became Rick Veneer. Mick Andersich was the front of house sound guy. He used Pink Floyd to tune the PA into the various rooms and was an essential part of the outfit, one of the best. He was a lot of fun too after the gig. Doris was our stage roadie and was absolutely the best. Willie (Cutit) did the lights and Trish (Sue Veneer) was the door lady, also known as the Sarge, she was hard to get anything past. So… Roger Overnout played bass, with Todd on the second guitar. We did festivals including the Shinju in Broome, the Sandhurst Run in Carnarvon, the Bindoon Rock etc. and hit Darwin, Adelaide, Sydney in our travels during the quiet winter months in Perth.
Lindsay (Awesome) Wells on guitar. Bob Patient on the keyboards, with Bobby Thorne on the second guitar. Bass player was Scott Lawrence and yours truly on the skins. We played all over Perth. The photo below was at the Chelsea Tavern, the band did a long stint at the Swan Inn Basement on Sundays with Steve Cole on vocals and harp out front. The Aberdeen and Texas Club were also regular gigs.
RAZOO Studio 2014